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Indian J Pediatr. 2007 Nov;74(11):987-90.

Newly developed WHO growth standards: implications for demographic surveys and child health programs.

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  • 1Dr Sushila Nayar School of Public Health, (Department of Community Medicine) Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sewagram, Distt - Wardha (Maharashtra), India.



To compare estimates of undernutrition based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards ('WHO standards') and the National Center for Health Statistics NCHS/ WHO international growth reference ('NCHS reference') and discuss implications for child health programs and reporting of prevalence of underweight in demographic surveys.


A cross-sectional study was carried out in 20 Anganwadi centers under Primary Health Centre, Anji. Total of 1491 under-six year children attending the Anganwadi centers were studied for nutritional status. Nutritional status was analyzed by NCHS standards by using EPI_INFO 6.04 software package and also by newly introduced WHO Child Growth Standards by Anthro 2005 software package. Chi-square test was used to compare the results.


According to WHO standards, the prevalence of underweight and severe underweight for children 0-6 year was 47.4% and 16.9% respectively. By NCHS reference, the overall prevalence of underweight and severe underweight for children 0-6 years was 53% and 15% respectively. The prevalence of underweight as assessed by WHO standards was significantly lower when compared with the assessment based on NCHS reference (p< 0.01). But, WHO standards gave higher prevalence of severe underweight than NCHS reference though the difference was not statistically significant (p>0.05).


In the light of newly developed WHO Child growth standards, all the nutrition-related indicators in demographic surveys like NFHS should now be derived using the WHO standards. There is need to reanalyze NFHS - I and NFHS - II data using WHO standards and findings should be made available so that it becomes comparable and trends over the years can be studied.

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